“We are still treating adaptation as a series of projects and programs. What we’re really after is a wholesale adjustment in how we understand risk, how we invest or allocate resources, how we plan our futures.”

Anne Hammill IISD Senior Director, Resilience

19% 5%

establish the critical foundations they need to plan for and implement adaptation, as well as tracking progress and learning from their efforts so adaptation becomes the new normal. Taking this longer-term view also speaks to being more flexible in supporting developing countries, allowing for course corrections and emerging needs as climate conditions evolve, and as climate impacts are experienced.

OFQ: What’s the biggest obstacle to successful adaptation? AH: I don’t want to speak for developing countries, but I feel like a big part of the answer from stakeholders based in these regions would emphasize the availability of financial and technical resources. They have the will, they have ideas, and they are ready to move. I personally feel like we still have some significant institutional and governance obstacles to overcome to see sustained, successful adaptation. We are still treating adaptation as a series of projects and programs. What we’re really after is a wholesale adjustment in how we understand risk, how we invest or allocate resources, how we plan our futures. I don’t know that decision-makers – from the household to national government levels – have really internalized this.

OFQ: Are there any examples of where whole systems have already changed in the face of climate impact? AH: I know of examples of communities that

have relocated due to climate impacts. We are hearing about this in Small Islands Developing States, such as Fiji. There, in 2014, the village of Vunidogoloa became the first village in Fiji to be relocated due to climate change. After decades of building seawalls, relocating individual houses and adjusting the construction of new houses, it became too much for them to deal with the recurrent flooding. They put in a request to the government to move the entire village inland. In January 2014, over the course of three days, Vunidogoloa’s 132 inhabitants moved their belongings 2 km inland to establish a new village called Kenani. While the change was needed and welcome, it was not easy. Livelihoods were disrupted and the process of abandoning land, which is so core to the indigenous Fijian identity, was traumatic. Eighty more communities in Fiji are earmarked for potential future relocation.

OFQ: How optimistic are you that adaptation measures in developing countries will be able to cope with climate change going forward? AH: I’m optimistic in that there’s more attention and effort being paid to adaptation than before. And developing countries are taking action – no question. Is it sufficient? No. We still see too many communities experiencing harm and loss in the face of climate impacts. But we can get there.

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Proportion of finance from OECD countries to developing countries going toward adaptation

Proportion of tracked climate finance spent on adaptation

US$30bn US$180bn

Current spend on adaptation per year

Estimated investment in adaptation required per year between 2020 and 2030

PHOTO: 200f2 photography

PHOTO: Andrii Vodolazhskyi/

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